Hitting The Sweet Spot

At Finale in Boston, dessert is the main event.

For anyone who has ever felt like making a meal of dessert, one Boston restaurant has the menu for you. Finale serves up 13 artistically arranged decadent delights that tempt with a creative mix of flavors. The Italian teaser, for example, features tiramisu with baby cannolis, tart lemon curd gelato, and brandied coffee sauce. Small portions limit the calorie overload, but they don't preclude high prices. The tiramisu goes for $12.95.

Bostonians with a sweet tooth don't seem to mind. At 10:30 on a recent Saturday night, the place is jammed with theatergoers and young couples on dates. Some wait up to 15 minutes for a seat in the elegant dining room lined with red velvet banquettes.

HOT, GOOEY CENTER

Finale grew out of a Harvard Business School project by Class of '97 grads Kim Moore and Paul Conforti. "Our research showed there were plenty of casual cafés for a cup of coffee and slice of cake, but no places for a fine dining dessert restaurant," says Moore.

Many patrons crave one of Finale's signature creations: the $10.95 molten chocolate. Shaped like a muffin, this chocolate cake has a hot, gooey center and comes with achingly rich coffee ice cream, chocolate sauce, and a cluster of chocolate-covered almonds. Finale suggests wines to accompany each of its plates. For molten chocolate, it recommends a $9.95 glass of Williams & Humbert Solera Especial 15-year-old sherry. Non-chocolate specialties include crème brulee with fresh fruit and orange butter cookies for $8.95. For those who have willpower to stick to their diets, the menu offers fresh fruit with sorbet for $9.95.

Just dessert is just not enough? Look to the "prelude" page of the menu for appetizers such as mesclun salad with goat cheese and pistachio nuts, antipasto, soup, or other light starters.

Finale has two locations: at 1 Columbus Ave. in Boston (617 423-3184) and 30 Dunster St. in nearby Cambridge (617 441-9797). The next stop: possibly Portland, Me., or Providence as Finale continues to expand -- just like its customers' waistlines.

By Faith Arner

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